Fiji Travel Tips
Before you visit the beautiful islands of Fiji, it is a good idea to learn some basic rules of etiquette about this country. The following tips are designed to give you a basic run down on how to participate in and enjoy Fiji’s local customs.
When visiting a village in Fiji it is customary to present a gift called yaqona
A yaqona (pronounced YAH-GOONA-AH) is also known as kava. This can be picked up from the local markets and is relatively inexpensive. Kava is a shrub that belongs to the pepper family, and is made into a drink that some describe as tasting like muddy water, and has sedative and muscle relaxant effects.
Don’t turn up without arranging a visit to a village
You could do this as part of a tour, where the travel agent will arrange permission to visit a village with the Village Headman.
Dress modestly when visiting a village
The locals have their own customs and when having the privilege to visit a village in Fiji it is a sign of respect to dress appropriately. Revealing clothing or showing too much skin is seen as a sign of disrespect. Also remember never to wear a hat or sunglasses when visiting a village. Treat a visit to a village like going to Church in terms of what you would wear.
If you are invited to stay in a bure, which is a straw and wooden built cabin in the village, remember to take off your shoes before entering
Ensure you bring the hosts a gift – the host would be happy with a gift of basic groceries such as milk, tea, bread and sugar. These staples are greatly appreciated.
You are allowed to take photos
However, it is best for you to do so when you’re in the company of a member from the community. Also when a ceremony is in place, such as a kava ceremony, don’t stand up in the middle of the ceremony and take photos without asking for permission first.
Do not touch a Fijian person’s head at a village
This is considered an insult.
Lower your voice
Speaking loudly is seen as a sign of anger and may offend people. Shouting in a village is considered very disrespectful. Also be aware that many Fijians rarely swear – so the locals may take offense to coarse language.
It is not customary to tip in bars and restaurants
Fijian people are proud of their hospitality skills and are happy with a thank you (or “Vinaka” in Fijian). However if you receive exceptional Customer Service – a small tip will be appreciated.
It’s rude to point
It is considered taboo in Fiji to point your finger at someone who is senior to you in rank or age.
Learn the word “Bula”
The locals are very friendly and you will hear this many times a day! Be courteous and reply with Bula.
Do not give lollies or sweets to children as a gift
Dental care is expensive in Fiji and with diabetes on the rise – it is best to give children stationery or toys.
Take notice of the flowers behind people’s ears at bars/nightclubs
A flower behind the left ear means that you are single, and one behind the right ear means that you are married.
In Fiji things work at a slower pace, so if you’re used to a quick paced environment – sit back, relax and enjoy the environment.
Bargaining is expected at the markets
Fijian people are very relaxed and like a social chat, so take the time at markets to chat with the store owner and have fun trying to haggle them them.